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Government Clears Barrier to Hiring Disabled Workers

Applicants no longer must provide a medical certificate proving job readiness.

The federal government will no longer require disabled job applicants to present proof of their job readiness, the primary human resources agency has announced.

The Office of Personnel Management issued a final rule Thursday simplifying the hiring process for applicants with disabilities, saying the move will remove a paperwork burden.

“We deliver the best results to the American people when we include all parts of our society in our workforce, and take full advantage of their skills and perspectives,” OPM Director John Berry said in a statement. “It’s important to recruit, hire, develop and retain a competitive and diverse workforce, so that we tap the potential of all groups -- including Americans with disabilities.”

Individuals with a disability who opt to apply for a job through Schedule A -- a hiring authority allowing agencies to appoint a qualified, disabled applicant to a position without competing with the general public -- were previously required to produce a “certificate of readiness” from a medical professional or rehabilitation specialist, stating the individual could perform the job. OPM said removing this requirement is consistent with President Obama’s call to strip barriers to hiring people with disabilities into the federal workforce.

Obama signed an executive order in July 2010 calling for government to hire 100,000 disabled Americans to the federal workforce over five years. Federal agencies hired 18,000 disabled workers in 2011, up 9 percent from the previous year.  

OPM stated it is confident managers can use standard procedures when interviewing disabled applicants to ensure they are qualified for the job.

“There is no concern that people with disabilities will not be qualified for a federal job without the certification of job readiness,” an OPM spokeswoman said. “When individuals apply for a federal job, there are always certain qualifications that are applicable to anyone who applies to that position, and are dependent on the nature of the job.” 

(Image via peppi18/